|Put on Schwalbes just for the Burn. :)|
As some of you know, I came into this Burn without a lot of confidence thanks to an injury DNF at PMBAR a few weeks before (sorry partner (Jay)), followed by pink-eye and a throat virus. My only real goal was to ride, ride, ride for 24hrs, resting only when necessary. I thought I was logistically prepared as I arrived early and secured a good pit-spot near the start/finish for myself, Mike and Andie (riding as a coed duo) and Brandon. I had 6 hrs of Perpetuem ready in bottles, as well as 4 hrs of Hi-Fi 4:1 mix, two gel flasks, an assortment of bars, as well as Enduralites, water and Nuun tablets. I also brought precooked bacon, cookies and some other food, but the ants enjoyed them before I could--damn those buggers! Also, my Soul Cycles Hooligan single-speed had a crack at the weld where the rear stays meet the seat tube. I was told it was not in a catastrophic area and I was unlikely to end up with aluminum shards in my spine, so I brought a back-up bike just in case, and off I went.
The first few laps were pretty uneventful. The trail was slick due to all the rain, but because I took my time with the LeMans start, I never felt stuck behind anyone. There were spots on the trail where I was forced to get off my bike and walk because others had stopped in front of me, but I found out in the ensuing laps that I would likely be walking a few of those spots often.
I pitted after three laps (more Perpetuem and water) and then again after my fifth lap. I was averaging my goal of about a lap an hour and felt pretty good all things considered. I decided to start pitting every other lap in order to ensure I was giving myself time to eat and drink properly and to not overdo it. When the night laps started I was pretty excited to try out my new BikeRay III light on my handlebars. I went with an XML torch on my helmet (throws 300 lumen which was plenty of light) and used the BikeRay on low (300 floody lumen) for the climbs and on high (amazing 1000 floody lumens) for the descents. Unfortunately, the BikeRay rotated often on the bars due to the rooty, bouncy trail and I found myself readjusting it constantly. I think constantly readjusting my light while bouncing down the trail on my 26" hardtail helped keep my alert (how did I not totally bite it?). Anyway, I had plenty of light and there were no other light related issues.
My 10th and 11th laps were hell. I had no strength and little energy. I began walking areas that I would normally ride. I was having a tough time eating (nauseous) and was throwing down Hammer Gel to try and survive. I was not going very fast at all, and felt that my level of heart rate and massive perspiration far exceeded my output. I came into the pit at ~12:30, finished, done. My plan was to ride for 24 hrs. And as I said before, to quote the great Mike Tyson, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." I was just punched in the mouth, hard.
I was sweating, but shivering with teeth chattering. Luckily for me Brandon was there as was Andie and Mike. Andie told me to put on some dry clothes and wrapped me in a blanket and towel while I sat in a camping chair (leave it to a woman to be nurturing). I felt too nauseous to eat so Brandon gave me a cold coke to help settle my stomach. I started falling asleep in the chair and woke up to find I had dropped the coke. Andy figured I was starving and gave me one of Brandon’s store bought roast beef sandwiches. She was right, I was starving. I ate most of the sandwich (ah, real food), had another coke, and started to feel a little better. I was told I was in 4th or 5th at that time. I did not care. I just kept running scenarios through my head; like if I slept for 4 or 5 hours, I could still get up and finish four more laps to get the 15 that I had already told everyone I thought I could do. I also knew there was the possibility that If I went to sleep, my race was over at 11 laps. At 1:53 a.m. I decided to take of my skirt and put back on my man pants. O.k., I really put on new bibs, shirt and socks and headed out. I was amazed at how much better I felt, kinda like I did during laps 4 and 5 (cramping and tired, but o.k.). I went for two laps before pitting again. Swapped batteries for my bar light, ate some energy bar (don’t remember which), grabbed some gummy gel things and off I went to get my last two laps in. I struggled hard through laps 14 and 15. Again, I started walking several sections and began feeling like I should not be out there. I started to question my sanity. I thought of the Albert Einstein quote, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". But I was getting different results (more laps) so I was sane, yes! When I finally came in, I went straight to the standings and saw I was in….2nd! Are you serious? I was ~20 minutes ahead of 3rd and about 3 laps ahead of 4th (who obviously slept for the night). I did not even go to my tent. I just turned around and punched out lap 16. I was hating life. My legs kept cramping, forcing me off the bike. My left forearm would lock up, forcing me off the bike. Still, I was going to finish 16 laps, and maybe, just maybe, I might hold on for a podium spot; that is what drove me.
When I came in from lap 16 I was spent. It was 7:23 a.m. I told my fellow pitters I was done and going to sleep. Mike asked if he should wake me at a certain time. I said not to worry about it. I would set my alarm for a few hours and see if I had another lap in me before it was over. I went into the tent, laid down on the comfortable mattress, and realized I left my phone/alarm in my car. I did not care, I fell asleep. When I woke up, it was bright, hot, and loud. I had no idea how long I had slept, so I forced myself up and out of the smoldering tent. I looked at my bike computer, it was 9:30 a.m., I slept for almost two hours. I swallowed down some power aid and walked over to view the scores. With my 16 laps, I was now in 3rd, and the guy in 2nd (Lamar) was out riding. I said out loud, “Well, looks like I might get 3rd”. A guy standing there said that he was pitting with the 4th place guy and that he planned on doing 18. If he did 17 he was going to knock me off the podium. Crap! I went back to the tent and conjured up the remains of that magical elixer (coke, and the remaining roast beef sandwich) and changed my clothes. I had to do one more lap.
As I took off, I felt achy and stiff, but I felt some strength in my legs and a burning desire to make the podium in my first ever 24 solo. I walked in some of the usual places and surprised myself by clearing many spots I was walking earlier. I figured this was my last lap, so go all out. When I came in, I felt comfortable that I had secured 3rd as the guy in 4th I found was not punching out the same fast laps he had in the first 12 hours. I also saw that I was only 25 minutes behind Lamar in 2nd before I started that lap, but my last lap was about 15 minutes faster than his last lap. I actually had a chance to catch him if I did one more lap. Without hesitation I was off, pedaling as hard as I could. I had to catch Lamar! I went through the first set of climbs and no Lamar. I hit the first downhill section (with the tight switchbacks) as fast as I could, still no Lamar. I started the 2nd series of climbs after the river and began muscling up sections, desperate to chase down 2nd place. Then there he was. I caught up to him at the 2nd to last switch-back before the aid station. He was walking. I called out to him, “Come on buddy, this is the last one…let’s ride it together and see what we have left.” He made a motion and said something, but he was not getting back on his bike. I started pushing harder than I thought possible. A combination of competitiveness, fear and vanity drove me. I was working hard, steadily repeating, "Go, go, go, go, go..." with every pedal stroke. I only looked back once I hit the grass, no Lamar (thank god!). I cruised in for what turned out to be my fastest lap time of the race. My fingers had cramped onto my bar, my left forearm was cramped, my legs spent, my ass sore, but I did it. The longest (by ~50 miles), most difficult event I have ever done; yes, I threw up, and it was awesome!
|Never expected this outcome. Suhweet!|
The Triangle Riders Represent!
- My buddy Jeff D. who also races for TFKT (Trips For Kids-Triangle) finished 19 laps by 10 a.m. and decided to relax as he had 1st sewn up (must be nice).
- Andie and Mike (besides working a miracle by bringing me back from the dead) were going back and forth between 3rd and 4th all race before pulling out 3rd with a strong finish.
- Debbie H took 2nd in the female class with 12 strong laps. Like me, her last lap was her fastest. :)
- Kip P. and Alex H. took 2nd in the male duo. 30 Laps, wow! That would have won it last year.
- Camye’s team took 1st in the 3-5 female division, way to go gals.
- I also saw Terry Kolb was on a 1st place team (shocking).
Way to represent everyone!
Mountain Bikers are awesome, and I love events like this that bring them together.
Every lap friends and strangers alike were cheering me and all the other riders along, very motivating.
Friday night I hung out with Chris Danz and the Performance crew, those guys are a hoot and rang a cow bell every time I rode by. Chris also came up behind me for my 16 lap and actually pushed me through the wet mucky mud on to the finish...he is one hell of a guy.
During the race Camye brings me over to her pit (REI tent) to get me some real food to keep me going (Chocolate milk and fancy trail mix...) and plenty of encouragement, thank you Camye.
Andy, Mike and Brandon could not have been more supportive...they saved my arse at midnight when I was a zombie. I could not have made 15, let alone 18 without them.
Then having guys like Kelly Klett calling wishing me luck before the race (while he is in the midst of his own Trans-Sylvania stage race). Meeting guys like Mark Sackett and Eric Hagerty, Joel Watson...and them coming up and offering congratulations along with other studs like Jeff Dennison, Kip Porterfield, Alex Hawking and so many others riders I know and respect of all levels and abilities. That is what makes this sport so amazing. Full of great guys and gals of all ages (some studs, some weekend warriors like myself) that are happy to see others out taking part in events like the Burn24 that put money back into the trails so we all can continue to enjoy the sport we love. End of PSA.